Nailed the Bingo Recipe

I’m not a vegetarian but sometimes I run out of creative ways to cook vegetables. I have learned that vegetarians can provide me with lots of new recipe ideas to avoid getting stuck in a cooking rut.

While pictures help me to get an idea of what a finished product should look like, I often read a recipe through the list of ingredients to decide if (a) I have enough of them already on hand, (b) if I and my family stand a fairly good chance of eating whatever I choose to cook, and (c) if I have the time to prep and make the dish based on the author’s estimates.

I found Taste of Home’s Vegetarian Made Easy cookbook in our stacks and decided to page through to see what sounded yummy.

I settled on Creamy Cauliflower Pakora Soup, a recipe submitted by Melody Johnson of Pulaski, Wisconsin because in reading through the instructions, it appeared to meet my criteria.

First of all, the recipe calls for 20 minutes prep time and 20 minutes to cook. She lied. Sorry Melody. Also, I didn’t have a concept of how much 3 quarts of soup would be, but that’s on me.

In all this recipe took about three hours to make from start to finish. Gathering the ingredients required a quick trip to the grocery store for a box of vegetable stock, but I didn’t count that time because I thought I had some on hand but when I went for it, I discovered that instead I had almond milk. That might have been good, but I didn’t want to chance it.

Peeling, cutting and dicing the veggies took me every bit of an hour.

Bringing all of the ingredients to a boil and simmering took 20 minutes. To be honest, it didn’t look like there was enough liquid but as it turns out, it was just the right amount.

The veggies were soft to the fork when the timer rang. The tricky part is that you have to let it cool enough to spoon it into a blender. You’re supposed to serve it hot, but because this was my first time making the dish, I had decided in advance to serve it re-heated later. “Just get the dish made and see how it turns out,” was my thought.

Cooling enough to avoid steam burns took at least 30 minutes. The transfer process was messy. Once it was in the blender, it only took a few minutes to blend to cream soup consistency, but it was a tad thicker than I expected so it had to be helped out of the blender with a rubber spatula.

It got three out of five stars from my husband, but he offered the caveat that his Pennsylvania Dutch-ness may have influenced his rating downward as it’s not especially appealing to his taste palette. I would have given it four out of five for taste and five out of five for the lingering sweet aroma that permeated my home. Prep and mess-wise I’d give it a two.

Pro Tip: (Which I didn’t think about until after I’d put it into large containers) Pour soup into ice cube trays and freeze. Once frozen, put soup cubes into a freezer bag and take the cubes you need for a quick lunch heat up.

Nailed the Bingo recipe!

~Kimberly – Reference Librarian

Café Wrap on Character

Once again our Socrates Café meet up did not disappoint!

The Big Q: Is it human nature to base our opinions on a person’s character based solely on our interactions with that person?

Early on in our conversation, general consensus divined that while our interactions with a person (or our understanding of their reputation) colors our first impression, further interaction hones what we perceive about one’s character.

In the case of a complete stranger, we gather our impression of their character based upon how we see them treat others or our direct interactions with them. But what if the person is having a particularly bad day just before our encounter with them? Could we be wrong about who they are and our assessment of their character?

Suppose you encounter a complete stranger. This stranger has stopped for gas and you meet her inside a convenience store while she’s waiting in line behind you to pay cash. Rudely, she cuts around you without apology. She’s agitated. In that moment, another customer yells at her saying, “Hey, what’s your problem?” and curses her out and shoves her. After choice words are exchanged, she leaves, jumps into her car and tears off narrowly missing someone who is walking from the gas pumps to the store.

“What sort of a person is this?” you ask yourself. What words spring to mind to describe her character?

  • Entitled
  • Rude
  • Uncaring
  • Self-centered

Later that day, you learn that the so-called stranger is actually a friend of a friend of yours! And, you learn what preceded the gas station encounter.

A single mom, she’s been having difficulty at work. Her boss had given the entire staff an ultimatum about arriving to work on time. Anyone not at his or her post by their scheduled start time will be fired. Although she’s never been late to work, today she overslept with good reason. She’d been up several times during the night with a child who has been experiencing night terrors. Exhausted, she didn’t hear her alarm.

To make matters worse, her car was low on gas which she’d originally planned to remedy by leaving home early enough to stop and fill up. Having overslept, if she drove straight to work, she was certain she could still make it there on time, but she couldn’t be one hundred percent sure that she wouldn’t run out of gas on the way. If she stopped for gas, she might or might not make it to work on time. That would depend on several things beyond her control. She decided her sure bet was to stop for gas on the way.

Again you ask, “What sort of person is this?” But knowing the background, new words spring to mind about her character.

  • Determined
  • Smart
  • Responsible
  • Caring

Do you think you could have a different take if you haven’t heard of a person or their reputation? Sometimes, your meeting with a person still doesn’t tell you much about his or her character.

One person cited the example of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain meeting Adolf Hitler in the late 1930s. Chamberlain believed Hitler was a man of his word and found him personable. He’d even hoped he might be remembered as “an apostle of peace,” though history finds Chamberlain’s assessment a serious error.

How you meet a person matters. You might see a TV interview and draw an entirely different conclusion about a person than if you had met them in person. First impressions, we decided, can be skewed. 

Some of us believe that we are pretty good at judging a person’s character based on a first impression, while others are more methodical and take time to gather more information. One said, “My first impression almost always is wrong. It takes me a long time to make up my mind about things.”

Another case we considered is serial killer Ted Bundy who was known as a “charming person.” The way someone interacts with us might not say anything at all about their character. An irritating person, for example, may turn out to be a good person but the things that you find irritating about them may influence your opinion of their character.

One participant asked us all to consider what we mean by the term “character.” He suggested that character may simply be a proxy to how we interact with others. While we may admit to having our own flaws, as humans we generally do a good job of covering them up (even if only to ourselves.)

He also cited examples of both President John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., who were known to have the ability to deal with people, organize them and get things done. Still, both were also known as womanizing philanderers. So do we look at individual instances of behavior or do we judge character on the whole, based on something deeper?

Depth of character may not be just a matter of surface personality traits. The environment can change a person’s character. Does one defer to authority such as those who behaved in monstrous ways during the Stanford Prison Experiment to investigate the psychological effects of perceived power, or those whose egregious behavior was revealed in the Nuremberg trials of Nazi perpetrators?

This brought us to pose the question, are you born with character or is it created and changed by your experience?

While we do not claim to have answered the original question, we have gained valuable insight into what we think individually and how our belief about a person’s character squares with what the people around us believe. We’d love to have you join us at the next meet up of the Socrates Café.

Each meetup of the Socrates Café gives participants an opportunity to hear other points of view, and to offer their ideas about the question of the day.

First Mondays Mindfulness

mindfulness

Do you keep hearing about mindfulness?

Perhaps you have been wondering. “What is mindfulness practice anyway?”

Mindfulness has always been an integral part of yoga practice.

If you just thought, “Oh no, I am not flexible enough to do all of those poses!”

Mindfulness is best described as mind-body awareness. So you do not need any special equipment. To participate, you can sit on a chair, on the floor, on a mat or on the ground in your yard if the weather is comfortable. In fact, you can stand, or even take a walk once you understand how to practice mindfulness.

The library is offering free mindfulness sessions on Zoom so you can participate from the comfort of your own home. Check out a session!

REGISTER HERE for 5PM, Monday, February 1, 2021. You will automatically be registered for March 1st, April 5th and May 3rd so you’ll only need to register once for all four sessions. See you there.

Café Wrap: Will Racism Ever End?

Participants at the latest meetup of the Socrates Café chose to tease out the answer to the timely question, “Will racism ever end?”

We acknowledged that at this particular meetup, there were no obvious people of color in attendance, so we recognized the bias in our inclinations and lack of full representation of a more varied point of view. Still, we pressed on to first determine our own definitions of racism.

At the start, time spent trying to determine the differences between the definitions of: race, species, racism, bias, prejudice, discrimination, bigotry, oppression, etcetera carried our consideration. One person detailed the origin of the word “race” from the 1600s (corroborated by The New Fowler’s Modern English Usage which the library keeps in its Reference section) while this NPR article by Gene Demby suggests a much later use of the word “racism” and the ugliness it suggests. An excerpt from Merriam-Webster dictionary states the following.

The History and Dictionary Meaning of Racism

Racism appears to be a word of recent origin, with no citations currently known that would suggest the word was in use prior to the early 20th century. But the fact that the word is fairly new does not prove that the concept of racism did not exist in the distant past. Things may have words to describe them before they exist (spaceship, for instance, has been in use since the 19th century, well before the rocket-fired vessels were invented), and things may exist for a considerable time before they are given names (t-shirt does not appear in print until the 20th century, although the article of clothing existed prior to 1900).”

Merriam-Webster
Photo by fauxels

This passage brings up a good point as we determined among ourselves that the history of racism seems to date to the beginning of human communities. One participant suggested that racism is the “us” and them” differentiation in which one group seeks to control or see itself as superior to the other.

Some of us reported feeling hopeful that people are working toward being better, even working on ourselves to recognize when racism creeps in at first unnoticed. Another also noted how keeping groups apart breeds racism as it sows fear or distrust. This may be a deliberate action for one who seeks to control.

But, if I know you, I am less likely to think of you as being different from me in a negative way, or to consider you as less than me.

As to the simple answer to the question, “Will racism ever end?”

No. But in philosophical questions, there are rarely simple answers. Often, there are more questions that arise.

Some felt that despite efforts to avoid it, racism is a human fault. We noted that it can be argued that we are not born harboring racism, but rather it is taught. This offers hope. Hope that where racism exists, hearts and minds can be changed.

One of the great things that happens at the Socrates Café is that in the course of conversation, participants often recommend books, movies and videos, and other compelling resources. So when you join in, its a good idea to keep a notepad handy to write them down. And its often helpful to make notes for yourself for when its your turn to speak about what’s on your mind.

Here are a few of the titles that were suggested by you on the subject of racism.

Caste : The Origins of our Discontents, a new book by Isabel Wilkerson

“In this brilliant book, Isabel Wilkerson gives us a masterful portrait of an unseen phenomenon in America as she explores, through an immersive, deeply researched narrative and stories about real people, how America today and throughout its history has been shaped by a hidden caste system, a rigid hierarchy of human rankings.” ~ Goodreads

Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World a book by Rita Golden Gelman

Earning 3.5 stars on Google Reviews, this true story follows the 48-year-old on the verge of a divorce, as she leaves an elegant life in Los Angeles to follow her dream to travel the world. She connects with people in cultures all over the globe. (This 2001 book can be obtained by filling out an Interlibrary Loan Request form at the Reference Desk.)

“In 1986, Rita sold her possessions and became a nomad, living in a Zapotec village in Mexico, sleeping with sea lions on the Galapagos Islands, and residing everywhere from thatched huts to regal palaces. She has observed orangutans in the rain forest of Borneo, visited trance healers and dens of black magic, and cooked with women on fires all over the world. Rita’s example encourages us all to dust off our dreams and rediscover the joy, the exuberance, and the hidden spirit that so many of us bury when we become adults.” ~Amazon synopsis

The virally popular YouTube series with Emmanuel Acho entitled Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man

The series spawned his Acho’s book by the same name. Be sure to get your name on the library’s hold list to reserve your copy.

Harvard Implicit Bias Tests

Online tool created by Harvard psychologists to help you determine your implicit associations about race, gender, sexual orientation, and other topics. More than one person at the Socrates Café recommended this.

Crash a movie

From 2004 directed and written by Paul Haggis and starring Don Cheadle, Sandra Bullock and Thandie Newton, is the story of “Los Angeles citizens with vastly separate lives collide in interweaving stories of race, loss and redemption.” ~IMDB

Umbrella Academy a Netflix series, specifically Season 2, Episode 1

Current day characters transported through time in rapid succession, arrive in Dallas, Texas in 1960. One, a black woman, walks into Stadler’s Restaurant where she is met with the shock of the diners and where a stunned employee looks at her and points to the “Whites Only” sign above him.

Each meetup of the Socrates Café gives participants an opportunity to hear other points of view, and to offer their ideas about the question of the day.

Café Wrap: Upbringing

How does a person’s upbringing from age one thru ten affect the rest of a person’s life?

We covered this topic at our most recent meetup of the Socrates Café on Zoom.

Initially, comments about the effects of our upbringing took the negative track. That is, “What if childhood is less than optimum?” Suppose a child is abandoned or abused in his or her early years. How does this shape their future? Does the child overcome their circumstance? Does he or she become an abuser? Can they break the cycle?

What if a child has few educational, economic, or familial support advantages? How do these affect the person’s adulthood? Can they be overcome?

Does fear play a role? If I am afraid that I will live in poverty, what are the chances that my fear of remaining poor will drive me to succeed? If I fear taking risks, will I fail to risk what I need to in order to become successful? Are there people (who despite a less than perfect upbringing) rise above it? In fact, one patron suggested that fear can be good, citing the book Feel the Fear—And Do it Anyway by Susan Jeffers, Ph.D. which considers this idea.

One participant brought up the fact that even infants learn that they have agency when they cry to get attention. They fuss and someone arrives to give them assistance. And those who grew up having a self-reported happy childhood noted that their parents, who read to them consistently, fostered a love of reading and an appreciation for education. There seemed to be a general feeling that upbringing does affect the rest of a person’s life, but the extent to which it does remains unpredictable and can be affected by a wide variety of factors.

Every first and third Wednesday of the month, the Socrates Café at Allentown Public Library meets on Zoom to consider a patron-submitted question of the day. These questions are as varied as there are participants. Many times the question of focus prompts more questions. But it is a way to dissect what we think, why we think it, and how we value philosophical imperatives. You can register to join us here.

Café Wrap: The Golden Rule

Is the “Golden Rule” sufficient when examining all questions of morality?

This question, covered at the most recent Socrates Café led us to consider application of The Golden Rule toward the moral questions that we each encounter on a daily basis. Taken from The Bible, the well known Golden Rule is the idea that one should “In everything, do to others as you would have them do to you.”

Philosophy professor Clancy Martin in his lecture series Moral Decision Making: How to Approach Everyday Ethics said that this concept “appears not just in the New Testament but in slightly different formulations in a variety of ancient traditions.” He cites:

Book Cover Analects of Confucius

The Udanavarga of Buddhist tradition “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful,” and

The Analects of Confucius “Do not do to others what you would not like yourself, then there would be no resentment against you either in the family, or in the state.”

This whole concept seems simple to apply to everyday moral questions, but does applying The Golden Rule to any moral question stand up under further scrutiny?

Well, yes.

And no.

One café participant suggested that The Golden Rule is a form of reciprocity which proposes that if I treat you in a way which maximizes my happiness, then you ought to treat me similarly and by extension your happiness increases. The Wikipedia definition seems to agree. The participant elaborated further saying that it also follows that if I continue to treat you the way I want to be treated, but that you essentially use me to the point at which a reciprocal arrangement no longer exists, then I could choose to withdraw your access to my friendship.

This idea was rebutted with another person’s interpretation of The Golden Rule. Her belief is that it only states that the former treat others in a certain way, but that no reciprocity is implied or expected. Still, with respect to the concept of reciprocity, we pondered another’s suggestion to instead “do to others as they would like done to them.”

The one who proposed this idea further explained (and I’m paraphrasing here) the following. Suppose I am a person who prefers to be alone when I need de-stress. You on the other hand are one who just wants to be hugged or who prefers to enjoy time with friends in order to experience the same result. Using this interpretation I should, when you are stressed, be sure to invite you to my party, or give you a big hug.

However, there is a danger here. This presumes, as still another person pointed out, that I know best what you need for yourself, even more so than you do, and by acting accordingly I remove your autonomy.

Applying The Golden Rule to Everyday Situations

Is it okay to lie?

Apply the rule by asking, “Do I like being lied to?”

Sometimes (if it suits my best interest or helps me to learn), but not if it is used to manipulate me or is in any way hurtful.

What if you catch a co-worker taking home office supplies? Morally speaking, should you be the whistleblower or approach the co-worker about the issue?

If the roles were reversed, would you want to be talked to about this by me or by your boss and maybe lose your job as a result? Applied here, the principle seems to dictate that you should approach the co-worker to tell her, “Here’s what I saw you doing, and it’s wrong.” If after this, the co-worker continues to steal company supplies, she should at least not be surprised if you take the issue to management.

But is this really just being a tattletale or a whistleblower? If everyone steals the office supplies, will the company be able to sustain its business? What if it’s not office supplies, but the co-worker is writing checks to himself drawn from company funds? Do we have degrees to which we choose whether or when to apply The Golden Rule?

What about giving to the poor? Would I appreciate the help if I were down on my luck? If an opportunity to help someone in need presents itself and you apply The Golden Rule, then morally you would be obligated to assist.

While we may not have found the answer to our original question, we certainly came up with more questions and cause for thought about an important idea. This often happens, and that’s okay. That’s what a democracy is about.

At each meetup of the Socrates Café we choose a single question to examine from those submitted by our patrons.

You’ll find it fun an engaging. You can register here.

Book Flight- A Dog’s Purpose

Book Flight- A Dog’s Purpose

You gave us a book you’ve read recently. We prove three books based off of a related theme

A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron

This is the remarkable story of one endearing dog’s search for his purpose over the course of several lives. More than just another charming dog story, this touches on the universal quest for an answer to life’s most basic question: Why are we here?

Books about man’s best friend

Click book cover to see it in the library’s Catalog

Book Flights – 10% Human

Book Flights – 10% Human

You gave us a book you’ve read recently. We prove three books based off of a related theme

10% Human: How Your Body’s Microbes Hold the Key to Health and Happiness
by Alanna Collen

You are just 10% human. For every one of the cells that make up the vessel that you call your body, there are nine impostor cells hitching a ride. You are not just flesh and blood, muscle and bone, brain and skin, but also bacteria and fungi. Over your lifetime, you will carry the equivalent weight of five African elephants in microbes. You are not an individual but a colony.

Book on the tiny organisms in our body

Voting Information 2020

Pennsylvania’s Department of State offers voters the option to vote early in-person for the November 3, 2020 General Election.

Where are the Drop Boxes for my vote?

I live in Lehigh County and plan to vote in person. Where do I vote?

According to www.votesPA.com

  • If you are a registered Pennsylvania voter, you can use the new early in-person voting option available under the bipartisan Act 77.
  • You can request, receive, mark and cast your mail-in or absentee ballot all in one visit to your county election office or other designated location.
  • With this option, there is no need for mail at all, and you can cast your vote at your convenience.

You must be a registered voter to submit an application.

To check whether you are already a registered voter in Pennsylvania, use the Find Voter Registration Status tool. You must apply for an absentee or mail-in ballot for each election unless you qualify for and request permanent status to vote by mail-in ballot.

If you plan to vote using an absentee or mail-in ballot, your completed application must be received in the county office by 5:00 PM on Tuesday, October 27, 2020. Postmarks DO NOT count. Once you have received your voting ballot, the deadline for return is 8:00 PM on Tuesday, November 3, 2020.

You can request a mail-in or absentee ballot online HERE. Note that you must check the I Am Not A Robot box in order to proceed online with your application for a ballot. Otherwise, you can choose from the links shown to print out a paper application that you will need to mail to your county in order to receive your mail-in ballot.

When you submit your application for a mail-in or absentee ballot, you will be instructed to print your confirmation and/or have a copy of the confirmation emailed to you. If you do not have a printer, you can still choose Print, and select Save to PDF. This way, you can save a copy of your application confirmation on your computer in case you need to refer to it later.

Are there limitations?

If you’re a voter with a valid PA Driver’s License or PennDOT ID number, you may apply for your ballot with an online form.

If you do not have one of these ID numbers, you will need to download a paper application and mail it to your County Board of Elections or visit your local county elections office. We can help you access and print this application at the library if you do not have a printer, or you can submit an online request to have the form mailed to you. (See below*)

Absentee Ballot Application

Mail-in Ballot Application

What’s the difference between an absentee ballot and a mail-in ballot?

Simply put, the absentee ballot is used if or when you either (a) will not be in your municipality on election day so that you would be unable to cast your vote in person, or (b) you have a permanent illness or disability that makes it impossible for you to vote in person. Alternatively, the mail-in ballot allows any eligible voter to vote by mail instead of voting in person if they choose to.

*What if I can’t submit my application online?

If you’re unable to submit an application online, you can submit an online request to have a form mailed to you.

Si no puede enviar una solicitud en línea, puede enviar un pedido en línea para recibir un formulario por correo.

For Military and Overseas VotersWhen applying for an absentee ballot, use the federal form.

When applying for an absentee ballot, use the federal form.